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Self-Esteem and Children

Self-esteem is defined as feeling oneself worthy of the respect of others. All human beings have an innate desire to be respected and liked. They want others to look up to them. There is great wealth in self-esteem. It brings confidence in one’s own abilities, and helps in initiating and achieving one’s goals. Feeling good about oneself brings peace and happiness to the heart. It boosts the spirit and produces noble characters and lofty ideas.

Self-esteem is different from vanity. When a person has some good qualities and/or abilities, to know that and be thankful for it, is self-esteem. To be proud about it, and to think oneself to be better than others is vanity. There is a fine line between the two, but a basic difference is the understanding that all that is good in one-self comes from Allah. That eliminates all feelings of pride and leaves only gratitude for it, and the desire to be able to use it in the best way.

From a very young age, children show a desire for respect and attention. They show off in order to get praise. Sometimes when attention is not forthcoming, they revert to negative behavior such as fighting and screaming in order to get attention. There are various views on the origins of this desire for respect. Some psychologists believe it stems from a natural desire for success over others. Others say it comes from a love of self, an egoism inherent in all human beings. Religious scholars believe that within the human resides a Divine spirit. Almighty Allah says in the Qur’an: So when I have made him complete, and breathed into him of My spirit fall down into prostration to him (15:29). This Divine spirit, with its greatness and nobility, propels the human being towards dignity and respect. He needs to be valued, and would not naturally put himself in a derogatory or lowly position. The Creator Himself has respected the human being when He says:

And indeed We have honored the son of Adam. (17:70)

Thus the human being has the expectation that others will also respect him in this world. Whatever be the origin of the desire for respect, all scholars believe that a healthy self-esteem is a vital ingredient for the progress and success of the human being. The roots of this important quality are often built, or destroyed, in childhood.

Adopted from the book: "Raising Children" by: "Tahera Kassamali"

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